by Andrea Doyle | July 13, 2017

All eyes will be on South Korea next February as it hosts the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. The event is expected to attract 65,000 athletes and officials, Olympic families, and media from about 95 countries, while the Paralympic Games, held in March, is set to attract 3,000 participants from about 45 countries. 

With events of that size and scale, and a slogan like "Passion. Connected," the first Winter Olympics held in South Korea will help the destination showcase just how ready it is for large-scale events. 

There is plenty of work to be done before the games, of course: Cranes and other construction equipment dot the landscape in the PyeongChang area as a number of existing venues are renovated and new ones constructed. These include a new Alpensia Sliding Center and Olympic Plaza in PyeongChang, along with a new ice arena and pair of hockey centers in neighboring Gangneung. Infrastructure enhancements are also underway, including the construction of a new expressway and extension of the country's high-speed bullet train. These improvements will allow visitors to get to PyeongChang from Seoul in a little more than an hour.

"The new bullet train to PyeongChang allows meetings and incentive planners to leverage the Winter Olympics as a unique opportunity for participants to enjoy a game or two while staying in Seoul," says Sanghoon Na, executive director of Korea Tourism Organization's New York office.

The ski jump slope at Alpensia Ski Jumping Center in PyeongChang, one of the venues for the XXIII Winter Olympic Games.

South Korea has all the elements in place to successfully host an incentive group. It's a special destination that preserves its history while keeping up with the latest innovations in fashion, music, and technology. 

Take Seoul's Gyeongbokgung Palace, with a history that dates back to 1395, surrounded by majestic, glistening modern buildings and trendsetting restaurants and galleries a stroll away. Besides draws like Buddhist temples, large swath of mountains, and a complex and delicious cuisine, South Korea is safe, friendly, and prosperous with residents who are kind, efficient, and service-oriented. 

Seoul, its capital, is a business-minded city with a constant commercial buzz. Gardens, shrines, palaces, and hanoks (traditional houses often built around courtyards) dot the city. 

Busan, Korea's second-largest city, is no longer just Seoul's neighbor to the south; today it is a tourist destination in its own right. White-sand beaches and a crashing surf that give way to mountainous terrain, colorful Buddhist temples, and fresh seafood shouldn't be missed. Neither should Gamcheon Village. During the Korean War it was a shantytown filled with refugees, but today is an artsy enclave of terraced homes painted in a kaleidoscope of pastel colors. A funky maze of charming shops, cafes, art, and stunning views await. 

Art of another form is showcased annually as Busan hosts one of the most renowned film festivals in all of Asia every fall.  

The old intertwining with the new, a tasty cuisine with a focus on health, lively nightlife, fashionable shopping, and easy access to the great outdoors, "The Land of the Morning Calm" surprises at every turn.

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